Tony Award winning playwright, musician, and writer Stew is back with longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald with their latest disc “Making It” after the highly successful “Passing Strange.” Stew and his band The Negro Problem have been hard at work playing and recording music about the ending of he and Heidi’s romantic relationship which was years in the making. Heidi joined the Negro Problem during the late 1990’s and have collaborated ever since. Most music couples would’ve parted ways after working both professionally as well as personally, but the two have put their differences aside and have produced some of their most creative and witty music.
Born Mark Stewart, Stew formed the group The Negro Problem in his hometown of Los Angeles in the early 1990’s. His music explores race, class, sex, and the inconsistencies of politics as it relates to peoples demented upbringing. The Negro Problem’s albums include the critically-acclaimed “Post Minstrel Syndrome,” “Joys and Concern,” and “Welcome Black.” Stew’s solo recordings have also showed another side of the artist’s vision on how he creates and produces music that is also different from a group setting.
In 2006 both he and Heidi began writing what would become later commissioned by New York’s Public Theater as a masterpiece. “Passing Strange” is musical that fused soul, cabaret, pop, and some of the classic elements of Broadway. Stew crafted a semi-autobiographical musical about a young man named “The Youth” who leaves the states and goes overseas to find himself as a person. This coming of age musical hit a nerve on Broadway garnering a record seven Tony nominations. Stew won for best book of a musical. The musical was shot during the final week of the musical by director Spike Lee for a theatrical and cable audience.
Stew and Heidi continue to perform with The Negro Problem are currently writing music for upcoming theatrical productions. For upcoming info on Stew please visit them online at stewsongs.com
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